The new Soviet leader, Yuri Andropov, today forecast a sharp turn in domestic policies in his first major speech in which he also asserted that he would not make any "preliminary concessions" to improve relations with the United States.
The speech before the policy-making Central Committee appeared to foreshadow a major purge of the government in the coming months and amounted to a repudiation of the domestic policies of his predecessor, Leonid Brezhnev.
The 68-year-old Andropov vowed to continue Brezhnev's "peaceful foreign policy," made a friendly bow to China by calling it "our great neighbor" and indirectly assailed the American attitude toward the Geneva arms negotiations as one of "the talks held for the sake of talks."
"We are for the search of a healthy basis acceptable to the sides concerned for a settlement of most complicated problems, especially the problems of curbing the arms race," he said, "but let no one expect unilateral disarmament from us. We are not naive people."
The standard Soviet position is that President Reagan's starting proposals at the two sets of talks in Geneva amount to a demand for Moscow's unilateral disarmament.
Andropov made an extraordinary admission, contradicting all previous official pronouncements by asserting that the Soviet economy had failed to meet its planned targets for the past two years. He said the nation's economic ills must be solved through greater discipline and a system of material incentives to raise productivity.
In a sharp departure from his predecessors on similar occasions, Andropov said, "I do not have ready recipes for their solution. But it is all of us who are to find answers to them."
The unusually frank speech came as the new leadership promoted Gaidar Aliyev, the leader of Soviet Azerbaijan and a longtime official of the KGB, the Soviet secret police, to full Politburo membership. It also made a relatively obscure economic manager, Nikolai Ryzhkov, 53, one of a small group of powerful Central Committee secretaries.
Aliyev, 59, has been a member of the KGB since he was 20. Andropov served for 15 years as chief of the KGB before moving to the Secretariat of the Central Committee in May.
Ryzhkov, former director of a factory in the Urals who was brought to the State Planning Commission three years ago, was elected to the Central Committee last year.
The government news agency Tass also announced that the Central Committee today relieved Andrei Kirilenko, 76, of his membership in the Politburo at his own request.
In his speech, distributed by Tass, Andropov paid Kirilenko an unusually warm tribute and praised his services to the party and the country. Kirilenko was dropped from the Politburo earlier this month. Reports of his ill health had circulated for some time.
There was no mention today of Arvid Pelshe, 83, the oldest member of the Politburo, who recently was reported by Soviet sources to have died. The same sources now say he had been gravely ill but has recovered.
Although the new leader's speech was critical of Brezhnev's internal policies, the Central Committee decided today to name a new industrial city in Tataria, Naberezhniye Chelni, after Brezhnev, who died on Nov. 10. Brezhnev's name is also to be attached to more than 20 places, institutions and factories in a move that indicates that Andropov would not follow the practices of his predecessors and erase the late leader's name from history books.
The new Soviet leader, who replaced Brezhnev on Nov. 12, devoted the largest part of his address to domestic issues. Discussing foreign affairs, he mentioned only China and the United States in any great detail.
He promised to continue efforts to improve relations with Peking, following Brezhnev's line that placed emphasis "on common sense and on the need to overcome the inertia of prejudices."
Calling China "our great neighbor," a phrase used for the first time in two decades by his rival Konstantin Chernenko in a speech three weeks ago, Andropov said, "We pay great attention to every positive response to this from the Chinese side."
He reaffirmed Moscow's commitment to detente, which he said "certain imperialist leaders" regard as "a chance episode in the difficult history of mankind."
Referring to Reagan's offer of a new relationship with Moscow, Andropov said: "Statements in which the readiness for normalizing relations is linked with the demand that the Soviet Union pay for this with preliminary concessions in different fields do not sound serious, to say the least.
"We shall not agree to this and, properly speaking, we have nothing to cancel. We did not introduce sanctions against anyone, we did not denounce treaties and agreements that were signed, and we did not interrupt talks that were started.
"I should like to stress once more that the Soviet Union stands for accord, but this should be sought on the basis of reciprocity and equality. In our opinion, the point of talks with the United States and other Western countries, primarily on questions of restraining the arms race, does not lie in the statement of differences. For us, talks are a way of joining efforts by different states in order to achieve results useful to all sides. The problems will not disappear by themselves if the talks are held for the sake of talks."
Andropov renewed Brezhnev's earlier call for a freeze on the production and deployment of new strategic weapons as a way to create "more favorable conditions" for the Geneva talks.
Andropov's speech seemed to indicate that the new leader was likely to focus most of his attention on internal matters, which he described as the issue of "highest priority." He said the Soviet Union should use the experiences of other socialist countries and draw on "world experiences" in revitalizing the economy.
The reference to socialist countries suggested he may have in mind the kind of reforms that have been carried out in Hungary. Andropov, who was the Soviet ambassador in Budapest when Soviet tanks crushed the 1956 Hungarian rebellion, has been credited as having subsequently supported economic reforms in Hungary.
On internal domestic matters, on which he was brutally frank, Andropov cited failures in various branches of the economy and asserted that various officials are given to making slogans without "in practice" acting on what they preach.
"Apparently the strength of inertia and adherence to old ways are still at work. Moreover, some people perhaps just do not know how to set about doing the job," he said. "The main thing is to speed up work to improve the entire sphere of economic management, including administration, planning and the economic mechanism.
"Conditions, both economic and organizational, should be provided to encourage quality and productive work, initiative and enterprise.
"Conversely, shoddy work, inactivity and irresponsibility should have an immediate and unavoidable effect on the earnings, official status and moral prestige of workers."
Andropov forecast new Central Committee plenary sessions presumably to indicate that personnel changes await the government and party.